White Lily My Way: Virginia Willis

It's almost embarrassing to admit, but there are of photos of me making biscuits at 3 years old--and there's probably a bag of White Lily in the background. I've cooked my entire life, and my mom and my grandma were both great cooks.

When I was younger, living and working in France, I'd have my mother mail me bags of White Lily from Georgia to France and I used to take some back in my suitcase everytime I came home. But truthfully, I think that country French cooking and country Southern cooking are actually pretty similar. Both put an emphasis on good, simple ingredients and on freshness and regionality. After all, boeuf bourguignon might sound fancy, but it's just beef stew!

I learned to make biscuits alongside my grandmother. I remember she would let me roll out the scraps and she'd cut out my tiny handprint and let me bake it. There was nothing I loved more than being in the kitchen with her.

It seems like a biscuit should be a biscuit, but there are millions of them out there. I like to say there are as many biscuit recipes as there are grandmothers! And in fact, my buttermilk biscuit recipe is a traditional one, based on the one my grandmother taught me--but it has evolved over the years. She would have used shortening or lard, but I prefer butter. And though my grandmother kneaded and rolled hers a bit more, over time I've learned to touch the dough even less. The result is super tender, almost cakey. I like them big, "cathead" style. But it's not complicated. Biscuits are the bread of my people, it's that simple. There's nothing more primal or basic than that.

Click here to find Virginia's biscuit recipe!

Baking Tip

Do not store soft and crisp cookies in the same container, or the crisp cookies will soften.

Baking Tip

When making muffins, mix wet and dry ingredients just until moistened. The batter will still be lumpy. Over-mixing will result in tough, heavy muffins.